Impact of intensified training and carbohydrate supplementation on immunity and markers of overreaching in highly trained cyclists

PURPOSE. To determine effects of intensified training (IT) and carbohydrate supplementation on overreaching and immunity. METHODS. In a randomized, double-blind, crossover design, 13 male cyclists (age 25 ± 6 years, (Formula presented.) 72 ± 5 ml/kg/min) completed two 8-day periods of IT. On one occasion, participants ingested 2 % carbohydrate (L-CHO) beverages before, during and after training sessions. On the second occasion, 6 % carbohydrate (H-CHO) solutions were ingested before, during and after training, with the addition of 20 g of protein in the post-exercise beverage. Blood samples were collected before and immediately after incremental exercise to fatigue on days 1 and 9. RESULTS. In both trials, IT resulted in decreased peak power (375 ± 37 vs. 391 ± 37 W, P < 0.001), maximal heart rate (179 ± 8 vs. 190 ± 10 bpm, P < 0.001) and haematocrit (39 ± 2 vs. 42 ± 2 %, P < 0.001), and increased plasma volume (P < 0.001). Resting plasma cortisol increased while plasma ACTH decreased following IT (P < 0.05), with no between-trial differences. Following IT, antigen-stimulated whole blood culture production of IL-1α was higher in L-CHO than H-CHO (0.70 (95 % CI 0.52–0.95) pg/ml versus 0.33 (0.24–0.45) pg/ml, P < 0.01), as was production of IL-1β (9.3 (95 % CI 7–10.4) pg/ml versus 6.0 (5.0–7.8) pg/ml, P < 0.05). Circulating total leukocytes (P < 0.05) and neutrophils (P < 0.01) at rest increased following IT, as did neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio and percentage CD4+ lymphocytes (P < 0.05), with no between-trial differences. CONCLUSION. IT resulted in symptoms consistent with overreaching, although immunological changes were modest. Higher carbohydrate intake was not able to alleviate physiological/immunological disturbances.